How can one become better at making decisions? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jennifer Guttman, Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, GuttmanPsychology.com, on Quora:

A lot of my clients really struggle with how to become better at making decisions. Many people delegate decision making to other people in their lives because they don't want to to take responsibility for a decision that results in a negative outcome.

I encourage people to recognize that decisions are not permanent. There are no right or wrong decisions. Decisions can be changeable. One of the only high-risk decisions in life is whether to have a child because that's something that you know is a high level of commitment. However, most decisions you can change as long as you have the creativity of thought and the flexibility of mind to make a decision about how to problem solve your way out of a choice.

So, when you take the pressure off of yourself that there's a right or wrong way to do something, that should liberate you from the challenge of trying to determine if there's a right way or a wrong way to do something.

The idea that there's a right or wrong way to do something comes from the environment that we live in where people like validation for the choices that they make. We are encouraged to do certain things according to a specific group mentality. But that doesn't mean that the group mentality is right. Most of the time the group, whether it's family members or our friends, are guessing. Yet we tend to listen to the group mentality because it validates our decisions. That doesn't mean that they are right, it just means that they have guessed about a particular way of doing something and that it makes us more comfortable if we have a consensus.

Here's an example. If you put ten people in a room and you ask them to choose choice A or B, five people will choose A and five people will choose B. Of the people that chose A, three people will be satisfied with that choice, two people won't and will wish they had chosen B. Of the five people that chose B, three people will be satisfied with having chosen B, two people won't, and those two people will wish they had chosen A. The people that were dissatisfied with their choice will need to have the problem solving skills to figure out, with creativity of thought, and flexibility of mind, how to create an approximation of the original choice or a close approximation of the original choice that they could have made. It may not be an exact replica of the original choice that they could have made, but a close approximation of the original choice that they could have made. They will try to find another option to get close to the original choice and then pursue that direction until the next decision.

When people start to make decisions on their own, it builds self-esteem and self-confidence. The first step in building your self-confidence is to realize that you can't make a mistake as long as you're trying to be authentic with yourself. This is because there's really not a right or wrong. You can go back and make changes to the decision that you are making. The next time you have to make a decision, try timing yourself. This will show you that it is possible to make a decision in a short period of time.

So for small decisions, like choosing where to go to eat or choosing a movie, give yourself five or ten minutes. And for larger decisions, you take a little bit of a longer period of time. The more decisions you make, you'll notice that it becomes easier and easier. There there really is no negative outcome that's coming from authentically making a choice. I hope that this is helpful and that you'll learn to make decisions easier and with a more liberated feeling.

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Published on: Apr 17, 2018